Ever wondered how running water appears as smooth as silk or how a seemingly busy highway was transformed into one with blazing light trails? Although it is possible to achieve these effects with the aid of post-processing software, it can also be achieved with a photography technique known as long exposure. Award-winning travel and landscape photographer, Joey Yu, shares tips on capturing long exposure shots to get you ready for the upcoming Canon PhotoMarathon XVI Singapore 2018 .
Long exposure is an art form – images created with this technique provide an alternative perspective that allow people to view the world in a different way. Long exposure photography like all photography genres, require the understanding of light, composition and a little bit of imagination. The following tips will help you soon be on your way to creating stunning long exposure images!
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | ISO 100 | f/8 | 171s
Tip #1: Scout the Location Ahead of Time
Similar to landscape photography, always arrive early to scout the location for the ideal framing and composition. If time permits, make a trip to the location prior to the actual day of the shoot to familiarize yourself with the lighting and environment.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | ISO 100 | f/11 | 0.6
Tip #2: Check the Weather
Always check the weather report before heading out for a shoot to avoid bad weather and disappointment. Clear blue sky may be good for landscape photography, but is certainly not ideal for long exposure techniques.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | ISO 100 | f/10 | 30s
Tip #3: Equipment check
As the saying goes, “A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses” – a camera with Aperture Priority, Manual and Bulb functions are essential for long exposure photography. My camera of choice is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or Canon EOS 5D Mark III, coupled with the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM or the EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. This set-up provides me with excellent quality and functions to execute the long exposure technique. Bring a sturdy tripod, wireless or remote shutter release and filter holder to utilise filters while capturing long exposure photos.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | ISO 200 | f/8 | 189s
Tip #4: Compose your image and lock focus
Find an ideal composition that includes moving subjects such as vehicles, clouds and waves. An important note is to exclude the sun as part of the composition to avoid creating an area of overexposure.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | ISO 100 | f/16 | 126s
Adjust the focus using manual focus, as doing so will ensure focusing is locked and image is sharply focused. To do that, set your camera to Live View mode and magnify the surroundings to 10x. At this point, the surroundings may appear out of focus but simply turn the manual focusing ring until the surroundings appear sharp enough. Once done, press the magnify button to zoom out.
Tip #5: Dial in the settings
Set your camera to Aperture Priority (AV) mode, ISO to 100 and adjust your aperture between f/8 and f/11. Capture a test shot to check if the image is properly exposed and refer to the histogram for an accurate reading. In AV mode, the shutter speed will be automatically determined by the camera, which brings up the question of doing long exposure with high shutter speed.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | ISO 100 | f/11 | 151s
Generally, to see the effect of long exposure, your shutter speed has to be at least 1/15th of a second. For example, if the shutter speed is 1/100, a Neutral Density (ND) filter such as a 10 stop filter helps to push the shutter speed down. To compensate the number of stops introduced by the filter, refer to conversion tables readily available online or smartphone applications.
Tip #6: Taking the shot
AV mode can be used in creating the actual long exposure shot in low light situations during dusk or dawn. However, this mode can only give you a maximum exposure of 30 seconds. In some situations such as smoky seas, star trails or fast moving cloud movements, 30 seconds is insufficient to create long exposure effects. To create these effects, you have to set your camera to Bulb (B) mode. Once in this mode your exposure can go beyond 30 seconds, which will give you the flexibility to keep your shutter open for the desired long exposure effect.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | ISO 100 | f/10 | 44s
Long exposure photography requires lots of practice, trial and error as well as long hours in the field. Having said that, it can be very relaxing and rewarding as well. While waiting for the photos to be exposed, there isn’t much to do but breathe and take in the scenery.
Remember these tips and create photographic masterpieces at Canon PhotoMarathon XVI Singapore 2018. Register now!